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26 July Current Affairs

100th year of Montford Reform

In News:

This month marks the 100th year of the publication of the ‘Report on Indian Constitutional Reforms’, commonly known as the Montagu-Chelmsford Report (MCR). Edwin Montagu was the Secretary of State for India. Lord Chelmsford was the Viceroy of India.

Features of the Act:

It relaxed the central control over the provinces by demarcating and separating the central and provincial subjects. The central and provincial legislatures were authorised to make laws on their respective list of subjects. However, the structure of government continued to be centralised and unitary.

It further divided the provincial subjects into two parts—transferred and reserved. The transferred subjects were to be administered by the governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the legislative Council. The reserved subjects, on the other hand, were to be administered by the governor and his executive council without being responsible to the legislative Council. This dual scheme of governance was known as ‘dyarchy’—a term derived from the Greek word di-arche which means double rule. However, this experiment was largely unsuccessful.

It introduced, for the first time, bicameralism. Thus, the Indian Legislative Council was replaced by a bicameral legislature consisting of an Upper House (Council of State) and a Lower House (Legislative Assembly). The majority of members of both the Houses were chosen by direct election.

It required that the three of the six members of the Viceroy’s executive Council (other than the commander-in-chief) were to be Indian.

It extended the principle of communal representation by providing separate electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans. It granted franchise to a limited number of people on the basis of property, tax or education.

It created a new office of the High Commissioner for India in London and transferred to him some of the functions hitherto performed by the Secretary of State for India.

It provided for the establishment of a public service commission. Hence, a Central Public Service Commission was set up in 1926 for recruiting civil servants.

It separated, for the first time, provincial budgets from the Central budget and authorised the provincial legislatures to enact their budgets.

It provided for the appointment of a statutory commission to inquire into and report on its working after ten years of its coming into force.

How was it received by Indians?

The 1919 reforms did not satisfy political demands in India. The British repressed opposition, and restrictions on the press and on movement were re-enacted through the Rowlatt Acts introduced in 1919. The act allowed certain political cases to be tried without juries and permitted internment of suspects without trial.

These measures were rammed through the Legislative Council with the unanimous opposition of the Indian members. Several members of the council including Jinnah resigned in protest. These measures were widely seen throughout India of the betrayal of strong support given by the population for the British war effort.

Magna Carta of Modern India:

The 1919 Act went on to become the basis for the Government of India Act, 1919 and 1935, and, ultimately, the Constitution. The key principles of responsible government, self-governance and federal structure grew out of these reforms. The Act on Indian constitutional reforms along with the Montagu Declaration are, thus, worthy claimants of the title of the Magna Carta of Modern India.

Source: The Hindu

POSHAN Abhiyaan

In News:

Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) had recently organized 2nd meeting of National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges under POSHAN Abhiyaan in New Dehli.

Outcomes of the meeting:

Inclusion of 32 new districts under POSHAN Abhiyaan in the current year. This will help to saturate all districts of Union Territories (UTs) that were left out under Phase-I and Phase-II.

In-principle approval to guidelines for construction of anganwadi centres in urban areas and slums under aanganwadi services.

Month of September will be celebrated as the National Nutrition Month every year.

POSHAN Abhiyaan:

POSHAN Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission) was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 8thMarch, 2018 in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.

Targets: The Abhiyaan targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.

The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.

Source: PIB

Govt amends definition of hydrocarbon to include shale

In News:

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has liberalised the definition of petroleum to bring more hydrocarbons such as coal bed methane and shale gas under its fold. Petroleum and Natural Gas (Amendment) Rules, 2018 have been amended in this regard.

The new Definition:

Petroleum will now mean naturally occurring hydrocarbons, whether in the form of natural gas, in a liquid, viscous or solid form, or a mixture of these. It, however, does not include coal, lignite and helium occurring in association with petroleum or coal or shale.

What necessitated this move?

Prior to this, the definition excluded shale and therefore barred companies from exploiting it from fields that are producing conventional oil and gas or coal-bed methane.

Significance of this change:

The amendment of the definition of petroleum is a welcome move as it would open up exploration of all hydrocarbons in existing fields which is line with the new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP).

It would help in enhancing domestic exploration and production of hydrocarbons and increasing India’s energy security and reducing dependency on imports.

Other reforms necessary:

The exclusion of natural gas from the purview of GST remains a deterrent to attracting large-scale investments as neither the producers nor the consumers are able to set off the taxes paid on their input and output.

While the Goods and Service Tax (GST) was implemented from July 1, 2017, crude oil, natural gas, petrol, diesel, and jet fuel (ATF) were kept out of it for the time being. No date for their inclusion in GST regime has yet been announced.

What is Coal Bed Methane?

Coal Bed Methane (CBM) is an unconventional form of natural gas found in coal deposits or coal seams. CMB is formed during the process of coalification, the transformation of plant material into coal. It is considered a valuable energy resource with reserves and production having grown nearly every year since 1989. Varied methods of recovery make CBM a stable source of energy.

What is Shale Gas?

Shale gas is a natural gas formed from being trapped within shale formations. It is unconventional source of methane, like coal-bed gas (in coal seams) and tight gas (trapped in rock formations). It is colourless, odourless gas, lighter than air. It is cheaper than natural gas, releases 50% less CO2, hence better source for generating electricity. It also provides feedstock for petrochemicals industry, which is turned into fertilizer, plastics and other useful stuff.

About Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP):

Government of India launched a new policy regime for Exploration & Production (E&P) sector namely Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) in 2016 which is paradigm shift from earlier policy regime.

The main features of new Policy regime are Revenue Sharing Contract, single Licence for exploration and production of conventional as well as unconventional Hydrocarbon resources, marketing & pricing freedom, etc.

Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) under HELP, is main innovative feature wherein investor can carve out Blocks of their own interest and submit an Expression of Interest (Eol) throughout the year. Based on the areas for which expression of interest has been expressed bidding will be conducted every 6 months.

Source: The Hindu

Invest India

In News:

Invest India and Business France have signed an MoU to promote investment facilitation and cooperation between startups of the two countries.

As per the MoU:

Invest India and Business France will collaborate to promote business and startup ecosystem cooperation through joint activities and exchange experiences to strengthen institutional knowledge.

The goal will be to facilitate direct foreign investment by providing practical investment information to enterprises and support the companies pursuing those opportunities, which contribute positively to economic growth of the two countries.

What is Invest India?

Invest India is the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India and acts as the first point of reference for investors in India.

Invest India is set up as a non profit venture under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India.

A joint venture: Operationalized in early 2010, Invest India is set up as a joint venture company between the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry (35% equity), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) (51% equity), and State Governments of India (0.5% each).

Functions: The core mandate of Invest India is investment promotion and facilitation. It provides sector-specific and state-specific information to a foreign investor, assists in expediting regulatory approvals, and offers hand-holding services. Its mandate also includes assisting Indian investors to make informed choices about investment opportunities overseas.

Why Invest in India?

  • India to remain one of the fastest growing economies in the world- International Monetary Fund.
  • FDI inflows increased by 37% since the launch of Make in India initiative.
  • Leading investors ranked India as the most attractive market.
  • Largest youth population in the world.
  • Huge domestic market.
  • Rising economic influence- IOR and INSTC.
  • India registered a record improvement on EoDB ranking from 142 to 100 between 2014-2017.

Source: The Hindu

2018 Earth Overshoot Day fall on August 1

In News:

2018 Earth Overshoot Day will fall on August 1, the earliest date since ecological overshoot began in early 1970s. This year the overshoot day falls two days earlier than the last year’s.


It is date when humanity annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate over the entire year. It is calculated by Global Footprint Network and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The increasing burden on natural resources:

Currently, humankind is using 170% of the world’s natural output. That means we are using up the equivalent of 1.7 Earths. And, according to the Global Footprint Network , we’re on track to be using two Earths by the end of the 21st Century.

In 1963, we used 78% of the Earth’s biocapacity. However by the early 1970s we began to consume more energy than the planet could produce. By 10 years ago, we were using 144% of the Earth’s biocapacity.

Reasons for this and what can be done?

The two greatest contributing factors to humanity’s Ecological Footprint are carbon emissions, which accounts for 60%, and food, 26%.

If we cut our carbon emissions by half, according to the Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day would come 89 days later in the year.

If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we could move the date back 11 days. By eating less protein-intensive food, we could move it back 31 days.

How is it calculated?

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the world biocapacity (the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year), by the world ecological footprint (humanity’s consumption of Earth’s natural resources for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in one Gregorian common calendar year.

Global Footprint Network:

It is an international nonprofit organization founded in 2003 to enable a sustainable future where all people have opportunity to thrive within the means of one planet.

Functions: It develops and promotes tools for advancing sustainability, including ecological footprint and biocapacity, which measure amount of resources we use and how much we have. These tools aim at bringing ecological limits to center of decision-making.

Source: The Hindu

Green Mahanadi Mission

In News:

Odisha government has launched Green Mahanadi Mission. Under the mission, a total of two crore saplings will be planted on the banks of the Mahanadi.

Green Mahanadi Mission:

The Green Mahanadi Mission envisages rejuvenating Mahanadi river and its tributaries Tel and Ib by increasing recharging capacity through massive plantation.

Under the mission, a green belt with width of 1 km will be created on both sides of the river beginning from the place, where the river enters Odisha to Paradip, where it merges with the Bay of Bengal.

The plantation will be undertaken over 75,760 hectares government land besides 47,470 hectares private land.

About Mahanadi River:

The Mahanadi is one of the largest Indian peninsular rivers that drains into the Bay of Bengal. The 857 km long river originates in Raipur district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and flows through the eastern state of Orissa before meeting the sea.

The Mahanadi River is a river of eastern India. The Mahanadi rises in the Satpura Range of central India, and flows east to the Bay of Bengal.

The major tributaries of Mahanadi are Seonath, Jonk, Hasdo, Mand, Ib, Ong, Tel etc.

Source: The Hindu

Global Disability Summit 2018

  • The first ever Global Disability Summit was recently held in London.
  • It was organised by the UK Department for International Development along with International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya.
  • The motto of the Conference was to firm up the commitments of the country leaders towards the cause of persons with disabilities.
  • The objectives of the summit are,
  1. raise global attention and focus on a neglected area;
  2. bring in new voices and approaches to broaden engagement;
  3. mobilise new global and national commitments on disability; and,
  4. showcase best practice and evidence from across the world.
  • Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment represented India in the summit.

Kala Azar

  • An outbreak of kala azar was recently reported from the kozhikode district, after two months of Nipah virus outbreak.
  • Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, is caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites.
  • It is transmitted to humans through infected sandflies.
  • It is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anaemia.
  • The parasite migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, may result in the death.
  • It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
  • India itself accounts for half the global burden of the disease.
  • India has missed the 2017 deadline for elimination of Kala Azar.
  • Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the subdistrict level.

Dedicated Freight Corridors

  • Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project is a broad gauge freight corridor being constructed by the Indian Railways.
  • It aims to provide an efficient and reliable transportation system through construction of six freight corridors traversing the entire country.
  • Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) is a special purpose vehicle of the railways which has been entrusted with the job to develop DFCs in the country.
  • Ministry of Railways have sanctioned the implementation of Western and Eastern Dedicated freight corridors.
  • The commissioning of Western and Eastern DFCs is targeted in phases by 2019/2020.
  • Western DFC runs from Dadri near Delhi to Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai.
  • It covers the States of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • It is funded by World Bank.
  • Eastern DFC is from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni in West Bengal.
  • It covers the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • It is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
  • All the freight traffic that is currently on the rail routes between Delhi and Mumbai and Delhi and Kolkata would be moved to these corridors in parts to decongest the existing lines.
  • Other DFC – East-West DFC (Kolkata-Mumbai), North-South DFC (Delhi-Chennai), East Coast DFC (Kharagpur-Vijaywada) and the Southern DFC (Chennai-Goa).